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THE recent pronouncements of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on the killings of journalists "could embolden attacks on the working press," the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) said on Wednesday.
"While saying that most of the media killings were motivated by corruption involving the victims, the president-elect did not provide evidence that can be used to bring the perpetrators to justice nor condemn the killings to discourage future attacks," Focap said in a statement.
Duterte on Tuesday night said Duterte made a declaration that some journalists were murdered because of corruption.
"Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch," Duterte said.
Focap said his statement is another chilling reminder that journalists in the Philippines continue to work and live under threat.
"FOCAP agrees that media corruption remains a problem and that it should never be condoned. It can never be accepted, however, as a justification for murder or any form of harassment," the group said.
"Journalists, like all members of society, are constitutionally entitled to due process of law and legal defense when they're confronted by any allegation. Moreover, the state should extend protection to everyone, including journalists," it added.
While the Focap extended its greetings to Duterte, the group urged him to end impunity in the Philippines.
"We enjoin him to take steps to speed up the conviction of all those involved in the largest single attack on media workers in the world rather than issue statements that could encourage acts to muzzle the free press," it said.
On November 23, 2009, fifty-eight people, including thirty two journalists and media workers, were massacred in Maguindanao province.
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